What does an AED do and how safe are they to use?

AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator.  Automated means it talks to you.  External is because the pads are placed outside of the body.  A defibrillator means it stops the heart when needed.  Many heart rhythms only need CPR and not to be defibrillated.  Abnormal rhythms like Atrial fib (A-fib), for example, do not need a shock.  Also, respiratory arrest such as drowning or choking commonly does not need a shock.

AEDs are very safe to use because they don’t call for a shock unless one is needed.  So, you could hook it up to a patient and get a “no shock advised” response and then continue CPR.  We recommend the semi-automatic AEDs as they require you to push a button to get the shock delivered.  Rarely will you see the fully automatic ones out in the community for safety reasons.  Those will shock on their own when and if a shock is needed.

An AED shocks the heart and it stops.  This is needed for the heart to restart on its own.  It is helpful to begin CPR immediately after the shock as instructed by the AED.  This helps the heart remember to restart.

Defibrillators that are automated are very easy and safe to use.   They direct you on how to proceed with use once you power them on.  They continue to talk to you throughout the process until EMS arrives.

Survival from CPR doubles or sometimes even triples when combined with using an AED.

The average response time in our state of Minnesota from EMS is 10 minutes.  CPR and Defibrillation must start before this time for quality survival.  If you do not have an AED, CPR only can be very beneficial.  CPR adds oxygen and circulates that blood throughout the body and tissues.

Full CPR including breaths is recommended so there is no brain damage from loss of oxygenated blood circulation.  If hands-only is your only option, that is better than nothing.  If you have a choice and it is a loved one, do both compressions and breaths for brain survival.  Your brain needs oxygen to survive.

If your company needs an AED, contact your local Mayor to see if they have any funds available for grants for theses life-saving units.